Dating is intimidating, and, given many of us have been out of the dating scene, social distancing, for over a year, we are all probably a bit nervous to start back up again.
“With all the excitement to get back out there, let’s not forget some of what this past year and a half has taught us - like going slow, asking meaningful questions and building an emotional connection alongside a physical one,”
Expert Love Coach, Diana Eskander.
To help you get back into the dating rhythm, follow these ten mindful dating tips for a Hot Vax Summer.
1. Know what you're looking for in a partner or set boundaries to help you explore that.
Mindful dating starts with us being thoughtful about what we are looking for, both in what we want in a dating partner or how we intend to explore that. Before you get into the dating scene, allow yourself the space to mindfully set an intention with your dating. If you know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner, write that down and use that as a guide. If you still need to explore what you are looking for in a partner, set some boundaries for yourself that allow you to do so in a healthy way for you. For example, having a phone or video call to get to know each other better before a first date can be a small step.
2. Understand differences you're okay with versus what you need to be aligned on.
While you are spending time noting specifically what you are looking for when you’re dating, it’s also helpful to ensure you are being mindful of what you are and aren’t okay with in a relationship, related specifically to similarities or lack thereof. No two people completely share every belief and habit. We are bound to end up with someone that is different just as much as they are similar to us. Make a point to think through your “must-have” similarities to use as a filter when you are meeting new potential partners. If, as an example, religion is your “must have” similarity, you know one thing, in specific, to be looking out for.
3. Ask thoughtful questions and practice active listening.
A date that is being approached the right way, by both people, looks like a back-and-forth exchange of asking and answering questions. It’s important to ask questions on a date – you are there to get to know that person. Above and beyond asking questions, you need to ensure you are actively listening to their responses, both for you and them. You actively listening will help you learn more about that person, which allows you to ask a follow-up question, and also shows your date that you are interested in what they have to say.
4. Be aware of red flags without seeking them out.
Red flags are certainly out there, and it’s important to be aware of red flags as they present themselves. You should not try to seek red flags out, though. Beyond that being an unhealthy way to approach dating, it’s not helpful. Constantly trying to find the negatives in someone will only bring out negativity in you. Experience someone for yourself, and if red flags happen to appear, don’t ignore them if the matter is important to you.
5. Show your excitement to spend time with your date! No one will choose to be around a negative person if they can help it.
Building on the point around avoiding dating with a negative mindset, show your excitement to spend time with someone. Unless they are being rude or disrespectful, there is no reason to treat your date like you could care less about being with them – even if you don’t think there will be a second date. We are all people with feelings and emotions. Even if you are simply not interested during a date, treat them like a person. If you are enjoying the date – show it! Lacking energy is a great way to avoid a second date, so if you don’t want that to happen, show your date you’re glad to be there with them!
6. Extend empathy, even if you know there won't be another date.
Again, you are talking to, and meeting with, people when you’re dating. Dating is terrifying and nerve-wrecking for most of us. Extend people some empathy if they seem nervous, be understanding if life requires them to reschedule, and don’t be mean to someone or make them feel bad if you aren’t interested in another date. There are respectful ways to let someone know you aren’t into them. We shouldn’t have a negative impact on someone’s mindset or self esteem simply because we don’t have a connection or spark with them.
7. Be open without oversharing.
One of the toughest balances when you’re dating is how much to share about yourself. There is a sweet spot to be genuine and open without sharing vulnerable details too soon. Unfortunately, no formula for how to perfectly balance that exists because the line can move, depending on your date and how your conversation is flowing. Let the conversation guide how much you share. An analogy that may be helpful is to think of the information you share about yourself on a first date as the appetizer of you, giving them a sense of who you are without a full plate. As your time with an individual continues on, you can slowly build on your appetizers.
8. Protect yourself by keeping your dating expectations realistic. You likely won't find your spouse on the first date.
It’s important to keep your own expectations realistic when you’re dating, otherwise, it will be tough to keep your mindset in an optimistic place. Most likely, you are not going to find your spouse on your first or second date, and you may not want to anyway. Recognize that finding someone you want to spend the rest of your life with takes patience and mindfulness. Trust the process. You’ll find your person at the perfect time.
9. Know the tendencies of different dating apps to avoid a date with differing objectives.
At this point, each of the varying dating apps have developed trends in what their average user is looking for. Being on the wrong app will put you in a situation where you end up on dates with people that are looking for something different than you are. Tinder, as an example, is one of the dating apps you are probably most familiar with, but it isn’t the first place people tend to go for a long-term relationship. If you are looking for a lasting partner, apps like Bumble or Hinge are probably the best dating apps for you. There will always be people, on any app, looking for something different, but awareness of the different trends on apps will decrease the chances of that happening.
10. Practice self-love: dating can be hard, so you need to create habits to build yourself back up when you need to.
You are probably going to experience a bad date or two, and you may start losing your patience through the process or get into a space where negative self-talk starts racing through your mind. There is nothing wrong with you. Remember that dating to find your life partner takes time, weeding through people that wouldn’t make a good partner, and a good amount of your mental energy. Be kind to yourself when you’re dating, and build habits to help you refresh and get your optimism back. Spending five minutes every day making yourself feel good will have a massive positive impact on your mindset.
Equipped with ten tips for mindful dating, you are now ready to set an intention for your dating. Once you have it, be brave and share it early on in your dating experience.
“Remember, as you clarify your intention, you will be able to communicate your needs in an honest and clear way with the other person. As you do that, there won't be room for confusion,”
Relationship Coach, Ana Gasol.
There is almost always some risk, and a leap of faith required in dating, so get into action by joining some apps, and enjoy Hot Vax Summer. Have fun, be kind, and don’t forget to give yourself grace!